Subjective Well-Being and Conflicting Social Identities in the Frontier Regions of Russia
This study analyses how subjective well-being indicators and territorial social identities vary in the Russian frontier and core regions. It is assumed that the frontier history of settlement and border location of the regions has an impact on various socio-cultural and socio-political features of its communities, thus shaping the specific territorial social identities of people living on the front lines of Russia. These identities might be in conflicting relations, especially when taken as a factor for shaping specific public attitudes and moods, in particular, satisfaction with life. Based on the surveys in four border, or frontier and two central, or core, regions, conducted in 2016 (total n of respondent = 5000), the paper presents an explanatory model for life satisfaction in a comparative aspect, where different factors of socio-economic, socio-demographic, psychological, attitudinal, and cultural nature are considered. The impact of different territorial social identities on life satisfaction in the frontier and central regions was revealed. For both groups of the regional samples, the assessment of the state of affairs in the region, and the country as well, demonstrated a stable positive effect on life satisfaction, as well as the factors of locus of control, income group, and economic optimism. The predictor of social cohesion appeared to be significant only for frontier regions of Russia, in line with the classical concepts of the frontier. At the same time, age and religiosity factors predicted life satisfaction in the core regions only. This study contributes to the research on the border and frontier areas, as well as regional specifics of Russian regions, representing it as a vast and heterogeneous in terms of socio-cultural and socio-economic division country.