Intellectual and activist responses to the growth of mass media eventually produced a distinctive research field; the political economy of communication. It formed in the wake of European decolonisation, the cold war, the non-aligned movement and international new left activism. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, capitalism and communication merged on a global scale and opened up new political-economic perspectives. Digital convergences across mass media, telecommunications and computer technologies created new sectors of production and profit realisation. The growing density, portability and sophistication of web-based communication have produced fora of social media and a cluster of social media corporations.
Within this evolving field researchers in the School of Communication Studies have published in the following areas:
* Capitalism, communication and time
* Global news flows
* Financialisation of media ownership
* Media organisations in the south and south west Pacific
* Media ownership in New Zealand
* New Zealand commercial radio, radio and the internet
* New Zealand broadcasting policy
* The public sphere in Aotearoa –New Zealand
* Current affairs and tabloidization on New Zealand television.