In this paper, I argue that the competitive advantage of the concept of nativism is four fold. First, nativism is a particular construction of nationalism and as such builds on a nationalist epistemology. Nativism, however, does not function as a nation-building ideology in the way nationalism worked in the modern period. Nativism emerges rather as a mechanism to modify already existing constructions of nationhood along ‘native’ and ‘non-native’ lines. Nativism cannot be equated with majority ethnic nationalism in that the construction of the ‘native’ community can be premised on ideological or cultural features, that is, along civic rather than ethnic lines. Second, nativism avoids the trap of reducing anti-immigrant sentiment and narratives to arguments of the populist radical right. Nativism highlights the processes by which left and right positioning is fading away in favour of the native/foreigner axis. Third, nativism also often has semantic overlaps with populism, but this is a contingent rather than fundamental intersection. Not all nativism is populist and not all populism is nativist. Fourth, nativism often encompasses racism and xenophobia, but these concepts are high-level concepts with a larger breath than nativism. Nativism is often justified along racist lines, but at other times religious bigotry or ideological hatred are more salient. Nativism is a form of nationalism and xenophobia by definition, but nationalism and xenophobia can occur without necessarily amounting to nativism. I define nativism as a philosophical position, sometimes translated into a movement, whose primary goal is to restrict immigration in order to maintain some deemed essential characteristics of a given political unit.