What I really liked about the book was attempting to find the communication that was represented within the book. When trying to understand this, one must look to the link between mass consumption within a mass public v. consumption in a segmented public. Within the mass public consumption is integrated into the ideals of abundance, democratic political freedom, and prosperity. However within a segmented market, consumption is also idealized into the ideals of democracy (more involvement and less cutthroat competition) (298) and perception of individualism. But most significantly in the segmented culture, we can see the tailoring of messages to individuals (eg Kennedy’s 1960 campaign, 366).
On a larger level, we can see that mass media has shifted from the ideal of one message to all (mass consumption) to a message that can be tailored to one individual or a group of individuals (segmented consumption). I guess my larger point is that when Cohen says market segmentation gave capitalists and rebels alike possessed a shared interest in using consumer markets to strengthen, not break down, the boundaries between social groups, this contributes to a more fragmented America (331), she hits the nail on the head. While the ideal of a mass consumed message that “rings true” to the “public” is romantic; in reality, our society is endlessly fragmented and modern media operates to “narrowcast,” or target programs at demographically specific audiences (302). What this means is that in contemporary society we can live in multiple “segments,” and in doing so, we serve as the links of the networked society.