Prof Blain’s publications have covered a wide range of topics, often addressing questions of the media and collective identity, in both Europe and Scotland, including writing on European monarchy, on sport and the media, and on cultural theory and semiotics. He worked extensively as a broadcast research consultant during the 1990s, supervising and co-designing large scale audience research, and producing policy-related reports. He published extensively on issues of identity, representation and ideology, also on Scottish media topics, during the 1990s. Later publications include Media, Monarchy and Power (with Hugh O’Donnell, 2003); Sport, Media, Culture: Local and Global Dimensions (co-edited with Alina Bernstein, 2003); and a volume of essays on Scottish media themes, The Media in Scotland (co-edited with David Hutchison, Edinburgh University Press, 2008).
Projects have included The Scottish Cultural Memory Project (2012-14), funded by Creative Scotland, with screen producer Peter Broughan; and a project (with Julia Jahansoozi and Matthew Hibberd) on media and journalism education in India, funded by UKIERI. A collection of essays focusing on media accounts, from a number of nations, of the Scottish independence referendum and its consequences through until the May 2015 General Election, Scotland's Referendum and the Media: National and International Perspectives (edited by Neil Blain and David Hutchison, with Gerry Hassan: Edinburgh University Press) was published early in 2016.