The concept of 'hegemonic masculinity' continues to be used widely in gendered studies of men and masculinities, though this does not signify consensus on its meaning and conceptual value. In this article we introduce some different ways in which the concept has been used theoretically, and compare two different political and conceptual locations in which it has been employed, namely South Africa and Sweden. This arises from a collaborative project between teams of researchers based in these two countries. The goal of this project is to review critically and reflexively the use of the concept and associated concepts in the gendered, largely feminist and profeminist, national literatures in the two countries. While both countries have strong feminist traditions, they are distinguished by marked differences in history, geopolitical location and socio-economic structure. This in turn raises more general questions around the relation of the traveling of theory and concepts, and national and transnational context.