Abstract When living in a group, individuals have to make trade-offs, and compromise, in order to balance the advantages and disadvantages of group life. Strategies that enable individuals to achieve this typically affect inter-individual interactions resulting in nonrandom associations. Studying the patterns of this assortativity using social network analyses can allow us to explore how individual behavior influences what happens at the group, or population level. Understanding the consequences of these interactions at multiple scales may allow us to better understand the fitness implications for individuals. Social network analyses offer the tools to achieve this. This special issue aims to highlight the benefits of social network analysis for the study of primate behaviour, assessing it's suitability for analyzing individual social characteristics as well as group/population patterns. In this introduction to the special issue, we first introduce social network theory, then demonstrate with examples how social networks can influence individual and collective behaviors, and finally conclude with some outstanding questions for future primatological research.