The architects of the 'big society' have had trouble encapsulating it in a slogan, if Ian Birrell is to be believed. They know what they think the thing is; they're just not sure what to call it.
At its core, the big society is an attempt to connect the civic institutions that lie between the individual and the state - and these range from the family and neighbourhood to churches, charities, libraries, local schools and hospitals. It is born out of recognition that our centralised state has become too big, too bureaucratic and just too distant to support many of those most in need of help, and that it deters people from playing a more active role in public life.
In political terms, this means passing power to the lowest level possible: radical public service reform, so that schools, social services, planning and even prisons are more responsive to the needs of those using them; and social action, to encourage more people to play a role in society. Not just charities, but neighbourhood groups, workers' co-operatives, social enterprises and, yes, businesses. [Italics added by me - NG.]
Puzzling that they've been unable to come up with anything better than 'big' when the central idea is, whatever else you may think of it, so obvious. The active society? The self-reliant society? Not necessarily all that catchy, but at least stating what's intended.