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This paper is about globalization, the formation of identity among rural youths in Sabah, and their use of global and local media images in making sense of who they are whilst living in remote areas and in poverty. The findings are based on quantitative and qualitative data collected from 2013 to 2015. Debates on cultural globalization revolve around whether globalization has brought about cultural homogenization through the influence of global cultural products on local audiences, and whether local cultures and values will be diminished by global cultures. However, this is not so with the rural youths in Sabah. The quantitative data on their media consumption pattern shows that media globalization has indeed penetrated into their lives. It was also found that the identity of the rural youths remained largely local. However, certain global media images were used to express their hope for change. Thus, the main issue was not about cultural domination or their resistance to it, but rather the interplay between certain global and local media images, with audiences articulating their desire for emotional fulfillment and an improved socio-economic status due to their living conditions. The identity of rural youths in Sabah was seen to be contradictory, fluid, shifting between wanting to escape from their present lives and to remain there, primarily because their lives are embedded within the context of hardship and tradition.
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