The study looks at young people's situations in small communities in Siberia against a backdrop of socioeconomic and rural-urban divides in post-Soviet Russia. Focusing on the end of compulsory schooling, the study looks at the fit between young people's accounts of their circumstances, aspirations for the future and feelings about themselves, as well as implications for mental well-being. A mixed-methods approach is adopted, including preliminary fieldwork, a large-scale survey (n approximately 700) and in-depth interviews (n approximately 90). Situations and well-being in rural areas and small towns in Novosibirskaia oblast' are compared with life in the city of Novosibirsk. There is stark segmentation by locality. In small communities, the household 'copes' along with the young person in shared goals and understandings and in aspiring to get 'an education' as a means to secure employment and a 'comfortable' life beyond subsistence. Most households locally share the same situations. Almost all imagine continuing their education and leaving their home communities, dependent on family resources and networks. Horizons are limited to towns in the region, or perhaps the city, seen as a place of possibilities but also risks. Beyond the rural household, the collectivity of peers represents another key resource in negotiating and maintaining self-worth. Neither individualism nor the reach of 'global' culture is evident. Young people are embedded in the 'local', but despite their situations and poor prospects, these do not affect their sense of themselves. If anything, profiles of mental well-being and, certainly, self-worth are better in rural communities compared to the city.
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